March 23, 2017, Hotel Adlon Kempinski


The Opportunity

The time to strengthen German-African trade and investment connections has never been greater. Six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa, which boasts a large and growing middle class that appeals to German investment. Germany is a global economic power – the world’s third largest exporter and a proven leader in technology and industrialization. Conversely, Africa is projected to be the world’s fastest growing region until 2040 amidst an era of increased prosperity, and is drawing unprecedented investment and attention. Unlike China and the United States, however, Germany has been slower to recognize the tremendous business potential in Africa. German trade with the continent stands at $60 billion each year compared to $200 billion for China, which expects to double that figure by the end of this decade.


Almost 90 percent of Germany’s foreign direct investments to Africa are focused on South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria. As Germany’s economic growth stagnates and its trade surplus narrows, increasing its collaboration with Africa will introduce its companies to dynamic new markets bolstered by an emerging middle class, rising consumerism and steady GDP growth. Meanwhile, enhancing their ties with Germany will present African countries and companies with new sources of capital, globally recognized brands and world-leading technologies and expertise.


This is a critical moment for the political and business leaders of Germany and Africa to increase their engagement and exploit mutually beneficial areas of interest. Through keynote presentations, strategic briefings, panel discussions and market spotlights, the Germany-Africa Business Forum creates the ultimatum platform for enhancing trade and investment between both sides and fostering long-term relationships.

The Program

March 23, 2017, Berlin

Session 1:


Until Now: A History of German-African Trade Relations

Dating back to the “Scramble for Africa” launched at the Berlin Conference in 1884, Germany has matched geopolitical leadership with economic might in its interface with the continent and fostered positive sentiment within its countries. In this panel discussion we explore the strengths and benefits of Germany’s trade and investment relationship with African countries. From energy and minerals to mobile and e-commerce opportunities, Africa is a limitless business frontier for Germany’s companies, from savvy start-ups to industrial giants alike.


• Germany has little colonial history in Africa. Is this a strength or weakness and what kind of engagement is needed to make Germany a geopolitical and economic force on the continent?

• Out of $9 billion of Germany’s FDI to Africa, $8 billion goes to South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria. What are the building blocks for German investment in these countries that can be transferred to other territories?

• Africa has demonstrated huge improvements in business climate, security and political stability. How critical are these indicators for financial investment decisions?

Session 2

Germany Grows Abroad: Venturing to Africa for New Markets

In a country limited by size and natural resource, Germany has grown big and resourceful. Leading the way are iconic companies known for cutting edge technology and business processes. But German companies, which have thrived working abroad, do just 2 percent of their overseas business in Africa. In this session, our panels discuss the German model for overseas investment and the conditions companies seek to engage with the continent.


• Germany’s exports to Europe have stagnated to less than 1 percent annually but German exports to the African continent are growing 5 percent annually. What are the macroeconomic trends pointing to German growth in Africa?

• Africa’s share of world manufacturing value added is 1.5 percent, the lowest in the world. Is the continent’s slow growth in manufacturing a threat or opportunity for Germany companies? Can German manufacturers compete in Africa with China, India and Turkey?

• Germany’s Mittelstand firms see real potential in Africa’s burgeoning middle class, which has grown to 325 million people. Is this a strong starting point for increasing Germany’s presence?

Session 3

The Silicon Savannah: Technology and Innovation in Africa

Driven by necessity and opportunity, the African continent has been an impressive and surprising venue for innovation and technology. Through the proliferation of mobile technologies and digital platforms, Africa has created a vibrant environment for entrepreneurship and commercial ventures. Whether through mobile payments, ecommerce or drone technology, the continent is ripe for new investment and partnerships. Our esteemed panelists discuss the conditions and circumstances that made this possible and where German companies can bring value.


• Kenya, alongside South Africa and Nigeria, is emerging a tech leader for Africa and incubator for start-ups and innovation. Can German companies join the likes of GE, Microsoft and Google in an increasingly crowded marketplace?

• A report by VC4Africa identified 113 venture-backed startups in Africa raising $185.7 million in 2015, the best fundraising year since 2010. Can a maturing start-up scene appeal to German VCs?

Session 4

Plugged In: Germany’s Renewable Revolution Applied to Africa

Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass supply around 30 percent of Germany’s energy consumption. Germany’s Energiewende, the transition to a low-carbon, environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply, can be a role model for African societies and businesses to reassess one of Africa’s most pressing issues, its energy deficit, one of the biggest impediments to the region’s development. Technological innovations and future expansions will need to address the challenge of universal electrification in Africa, and the German business community is well suited to embark on this huge opportunity by ensuring to leverage technological expertise and innovation to provide energy in a cost-effective manner.


• More than 620 million people in Africa lack access to electricity. For many others, energy is unreliable and expensive, with many communities living several kilometers from the nearest grid access point. Where can German technology and know-how bring value?

• By 2030, renewable energy could account for 22 percent of Africa’s total energy consumption, up from 5 percent in 2013. Is Germany’s Energiewende a transferrable template for clean, affordable and reliable energy supply in Africa?